Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Exegetical Method

(By the way, I'm in the slow and tedious process of moving my entire blog from one site to another.  As I do, I'm sure some broken links and lost articles are going to result.  Please be patient and do me a favor - let me know if you find any of those. As I move things over, I'm going to periodically post some "blasts from the past" - blog posts that have been particularly helpful to people from the previous blog.  Now on to today's post. Enjoy!)


The Exegetical Method

exegesis (lit. lead out) a critical interpretation of a text
Want to be more effective in mining truth from the Bible?  Here's a 6-step process that I use when I really want to go deeper into the Word of God.  I'm also going to embed some links to resources on the web that I like that can help you in your study.  Enjoy!

Step 1. Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to bring understanding of the passage of Scripture to your mind and heart.

Step 2. Read

Read and reread the text aloud a number of times. (For great free Bible software go to http://www.e-sword.net/)

Step 3. Observe

What do you see in this passage by asking who, what, where, when, and why questions.  Look for the author’s structure, repeated phrases/words, comparisons and contrasts, and figurative language.  Usually, I’ll just write these questions right on the page of my Bible. Another idea is to print the text out, double-spaced, on a separate piece of paper and write between the lines and in the margins. Sometimes I’ll use different color ink for each time I read through the text.

Step 4. Interpret

What do you think the author of this passage was saying to the original audience and what did they understand it to mean?  This step involves trying to answer the questions raised in the previous step in order understand what the author was saying to the audience.  That is, just go through each question you previously raised and try to answer them.  I recommend using Bible dictionaries, Greek and Hebrew tools, and Bible maps for this step.  (E-sword has all of these kinds of resources for free, go to http://www.e-sword.net/ ; Baker’s is a pretty good resource too http://www.studylight.org/dic/bed/ ; or you could try Holman http://www.studylight.org/dic/hbd/ .  A lot of good resources are also available at http://net.bible.org/dictionary.php .  I went ahead and spent a bit of money to purchase New Bible Dictionary)

Step 5. Apply

How does this Scripture apply to your life and mission context?  Remember that not everything that applied to the original audience will apply to you.  What are you walking away with that you can obey?  What have you learned about who God is, what He’s like, and what pleases Him? Write this stuff down!

Step 6. Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to let His word sink down deep into your mind and heart and change your life.

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